Onward Eugene and Relief Nursery Partner to Create Childcare Program for Entrepreneurs

article by Caitlin Vargas | Startup Community Director, Onward Eugene

Aspiring female entrepreneurs will soon have one less barrier to overcome in launching new startup companies in our community. Onward Eugene, a local economic development non-profit, is partnering with Relief Nursery to provide no-cost respite care for participants of their business startup support programs.

“Onward Eugene is thrilled to partner with Relief Nursery to create greater equity to access entrepreneurial opportunities,” shared Startup Community Director Caitlin Vargas. “Thanks to the Oregon Community Foundation and the Anderson family, we are now able to remove the barrier of childcare for aspiring women entrepreneurs in our region.”

The respite care program will begin in early March, supporting entrepreneurs participating in Onward Eugene’s flagship startup accelerator program EUG Launchpad. This program is one of several no-cost entrepreneurial support programs offered by Onward Eugene, in fulfillment of the organization’s mission of prosperity-for-all. Bringing together support for startup companies, business expansion, regional marketing, and business recruiting initiatives, Onward Eugene is a force multiplier in creating economic resilience.

In addition to the accelerator program, Onward Eugene helps launch startups through mentor matching, a pre-accelerator program, and monthly workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs. The University of Oregon’s Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) series will also be supported by the addition of respite childcare. With over 20 women in the cohort compromised of students, faculty, and community members, the recent addition of respite childcare is a welcome one. All programs are hosted at the Innovation Hub at 942 Olive Street in downtown Eugene, a building shared by Onward Eugene and UO that includes public meeting space, UO product design lab, and Onward Eugene’s monthly Startup Coffee Meetups.

WIN participant Roxana Moreno-Humphrey exclaimed, “Having access to no-cost care for my 10-month-old son while I work to establish my event company is a game-changer.” Moreno-Humphrey explained that finding a childcare provider for her infant during the pandemic has been an impossible task and caused her to sacrifice the time she would be spending on her startup to watch her young son.

This new support program is open to all parents/guardians of children, with an emphasis on creating infrastructure to bring moms back into the workforce. Covid revealed that the lack of affordable and accessible childcare drives parents – mostly women – out of the workforce. More than 2.3 million women have left the labor market since February 2020, accounting for 80% of all displaced workers during the pandemic. Executive Director of Relief Nursery Kelly Sutherland adds, “This respite childcare is a vital step in supporting women entrepreneurs and building a more inclusive economy in Eugene-Springfield that will be the foundation of long-term prosperity. Relief Nursery is proud to be part of the solution.”

Relief Nursery is a child abuse and neglect prevention non-profit that serves the most vulnerable families in Eugene and Springfield with a wrap-around strength-based approach to child and family development. This partnership and pioneering initiative are made possible by a Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant, from Oregon Community Foundation and the Anderson family.

Published On: January 26, 2022
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